Q: I plan to do a tour in New Mexico beginning at about 5,000 feet above sea level. One day includes a climb of 5,000 vertical feet (to 8,300 feet) in just over eight miles. I live at 300 feet in Illinois. Is there a way to prepare for the altitude? — Richard M.
COACH FRED: I don’t think you’ll have a problem going from the Midwest to 5,000 feet for the majority of your tour. The day you climb to 8,300 feet may be a little tougher, but primarily because of the length rather than the altitude itself.
This is based on what people from sea level tell me when they come out to Colorado (where I live) to ride. They have a problem if they go to places like Crested Butte where the rides start at 9,000 feet and go up from there. But one excursion to 8,000 feet shouldn’t be a problem.
There are two keys to enjoying the tour:
- Make sure you do enough training miles to be comfortable with the distance of each day’s ride.
- Stay hydrated! The dry air of New Mexico can suck the moisture out of you. Drink copiously while you ride and carry a bottle with you the rest of the day. Keep drinking. Many of the symptoms that people blame on altitude are really caused by dehydration.